As circa 2017 rolls to an end, I am left wondering at the speed at which it flew. The roller-coaster ride has left me breathless and panting. As the days flew by all I was doing was running to catch-up on tasks. Stress has been my arch-enemy for years now and we are often found squaring each other up, looking in the eye and getting ready to fight. This year was no different from the last though over the years I have invented many old fashioned ways to beat stress, my arch-nemesis.
Stress, that dreaded six-letter word never leaves the modern person even for a minute. Whether you are committed to working for one organization or juggling work for a multiple, like I do these days, it keeps dogging your footsteps all the time. The only saving grace this year was the fact that I didn't have to travel as much as I was earlier in my full-time job holder avatar. But, working from home or even from one office for another can be equally tricky because the distractions or the lack of them are often enough to bring on their own set of issues.
Over the years I have found several easy and cost-effective ways to stay happy. I would like to believe that I am my own anti-stress ninja. So because I an feeling extremely generous today, I thought of sharing some here with anyone who'd care to read this post.
Here's my list:
Meditation: I absolutely swear by it. If you can just sit is one space and count your breath and feel it going in and coming out for even 15 minutes in a day you will be able to face the day much easily.
Chanting: Chant anything that makes you feel good. It could be an ancient and holy mantra or something that you have made up yourself to give you a morale booster. For example, you can chant, "I shall overcome anything that comes my way" over and over right before you start your day and just see how it effects your psyche. You can chant anytime of the day and under any circumstance to overcome your latent fear, fatigue or worries. It always helps.
Deep Breathing: No. This is not a new-age fad. Deep breathing is actually helpful. If you are unable to make a choice or you have too much work that is all on priority, deep breathing will help you overcome any kind of panic. Close your eyes, take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds. Pass it out through your mouth. Repeat a few times till the palpitation in you heart has settled down and so has your brain. Don't let panic get the better of you. Never decide when your head and heart are in turmoil.
Walking: This is the best way to settle your mind though I don't walk so much these days as I used to earlier because of the high rate of pollution but, if you are in a deeply troubled state and need to clear your head, walking till you sweat really helps. In case you have trouble sleeping then, half an hour of brisk walking before you sit down for dinner really helps. It works up your appetite and tires you enough to make you fall into sleep on time. In case you have time to take longer walks, then do so by all means, walking is the best cardio exercise you can indulge yourself in. I walk alone but, you can also do it in a group however, see to it that the group should not be walking too slow. The walk that will help you overcome stress and help you sleep needs to be brisk and long. Hang out with your friends at leisure at some other time if they want a leisurely canter with lots of gossip thrown in.
Listen to other peoples' problems: This is a very useful therapy but, indulge only if you can be unbiased and can keep things to yourself. By just listening to other peoples' problems and suggesting solutions as a third party helps you to unplug your immediate worries and lets you think. This helps immensely because, it helps your head and heart to detach from your own sufferings and start thinking of solutions. However, do it ONLY if you can be unbiased and also if you can stay detached to be able to guide and help others without getting sucked into their problems and adding to your own.
Help Out: Do it purely as a physical activity that goes on to help others. It need not necessarily be for an NGO or in a slum. You can help someone ill in the neighborhood by cooking for their family or taking care of their infant or a pet. You could help your elderly neighbor by watering their plants or buying grocery for them when you go out to buy your own. This kind of neighborly volunteering helps you build relationships with real people who appreciate your help and it is not something you need to go out of your way to do either. It's like car pool. You pick up a few people to ride with you because there is space in your car and they are going your way.
Adopt a Pet: It could be a tree that needs watering or a stray cat or dog or any other animal or bird that needs to be fed. You don't need to bring them home, just ensure that they are fed and happy wherever they are and run them to the neighborhood vet if they are not feeling well.
Start a Hobby: This is the best way to beat the blues. Pick up a hobby that doesn't need too much time or expense like, cooking or clicking pictures with your smartphone. You could also take up painting or singing if you have the time and a teacher nearby. Hobbies make you happy. They give you a sense of accomplishment. You could just get a bunch of underprivileged kids on your balcony and teach them the English alphabet if teaching is what you like. The sense of joy is immense.
Travel: Go away for a few days if you can. You could go solo or take that one dear friend with you who never badgers you. Taking a simple break is always a great therapy for a stressed mind. If time is a constrain then play tourist in your city. Instead of hitting the mall, go to a museum or for a painting exhibition. Walk around a famous monument, eat local food from authentic joints or do a picnic with your family on a Sunday. A change of scene is always a great detox. It will help you overcome your immediate problems and think clearly.
Sleep: This is my personal favorite though it is often only a short-term solution. If I don't know the answer to a problem, I sleep on it. Sleep refreshes the body and relaxes the mind. Usually, it is easier to find the solution to your problems when you wake up with an uncluttered mind.
Smile: This is perhaps the most difficult to do than all the others that I have noted above. But, if you can crack a smile and think of a funny incident in the midst of a chaotic day, your stress levels will take a southwards plunge. A smile is like a personal cuddle. It warms you up from inside and immediately relaxes you. Personally, I think of the antics of my young niece whenever I feel stressed. It never fails to make me smile even on a really dark day of work. Whether sitting in a traffic jam or unable to prioritize work for the day despite multiple deadlines, a simple happy thought and the smile that it brings can relax you in seconds. So, keep the happy memories handy on a difficult day. Think of all the happy times you have had and smile a lot.
These are a few things that I practice to de-clutter and reactivate my brains on stressful days and even when things are going great. The idea is to practice these things so that they become a part of your life and personality. With these simple things as a part of your life, you can breathe happy and stay stress-free all the time.
(Images courtesy, the Internet)